Newcastle have faced several tests this season. To me every game has been a test although to some it’s only been the games against the likes of Tottenham that have had the word ‘test’ bestowed upon them.
On the whole we’ve come through each test although we slipped on Wednesday night resulting in us bowing out of the Carling Cup after a 4-3 extra time defeat to Blackburn Rovers. We probably deserved to go out if you look at the game objectively. We played poor in the first half, conceded four goals and rarely threatened their goal, but the spirit shown to get two goals back in stoppage time, and than another in extra time, was a joy to behold and is something that is becoming a characteristic of this NUFC team.
However losing in such circumstances is bound to have an effect. After coming from behind when it looked impossible to do so only to be denied by a last minute injury time goal will have an effect. It’s what type of effect it has that will be the important factor in how, or if, we bounce back against Stoke.
This is the true test we’ve been waiting for in my opinion. It’s not a test of skill or talent as I already know we have players who possess that. Instead it’s a test of character as it gives us our first chance to see how this new squad can bounce back from a defeat.
This is new territory for this team. It’s been a good start for them but now they need to build again ahead of what is a very tough run of fixtures. Stoke won’t be easy and neither will Everton, and of course we all know what the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are capable of. However, one step at a time, it’s Stoke up next.
Obviously I’m just guessing as, like I said earlier, this is uncharted territory for this new team. The team spirit and fight has been there whilst we’ve been winning as, lets face it, it’s easy to step up a gear when things are going your way. What about now though?
Personally I think we’ll be fine. I’ve said all along that the fact that we’ve been getting decent results will help the team settle. For instance imagine we’d gone on a bad run or started off poorly. Do you think the new boys would have settled so quickly into that kind of environment?
The fact that we’ve been gaining points should help us when we try to recover from a defeat if that makes sense? It might not be enough to avoid defeat, but it should ensure that the players go all out to try and avoid it. Whether that will be enough is something we’ll find out about on Monday evening.
A lot of people have said that they would like to see how this team reacts to a defeat. In a sense it’s probably the biggest test of the 12 or so tests that we’ve already had this season.
Will they pass or will they fail though? My money is on the former, even if we don’t get a result.